One pint of blood can save three lives. That alone is what drives people to roll up their sleeves and get that needle stick. But there is another good reason to sign up as a regular blood donor: gift cards.
You get so much more than a t-shirt and some peanut butter cookies these days when you donate blood. Blood collection organizations routinely hand out $ 20 worth of gift cards to Amazon, restaurants, and major retailers in blood drive drives. You can donate blood every 56 days or six times a year.
So a couple can average $ 240 in benefits and save 36 lives in one year. For a family of four with children over the age of 16 and old enough to donate, that’s roughly $ 500 in gift cards per year and 72 lives saved.
“We went to Kohl’s once and there was a blood drive in the parking lot,” said Beverly Mattis of Wake Forest, North Carolina. “They gave each of us a $ 20 Kohl’s gift card, so my daughter and I went and did some shopping afterward. “
Exavier Jones recently donated blood on a OneBlood mobile collection bus outside the casual restaurant Carrabba’s Italian Grill in St. Petersburg.
“I’m Type O. That’s always necessary, so I try to give as often as I can,” he said, explaining that any blood type can accept Type O blood. He received a $ 10 Carrabba gift card and a $ 10 e-gift to use at a variety of retailers.
How to get the benefits of being a regular blood donor
If you register to be a blood donor with the blood collection organization in your area, you will receive text messages or emails with the dates of upcoming blood collection drives and benefits. There are many blood collection organizations throughout the country. Here are three of the most important and how to register:
You don’t have to give a certain number of times a year, but there is encouragement.
OneBlood, which collects blood in the Southeast, partnered with Carrabba’s to deliver $ 10 gift cards every time someone donated between January and April. Those who gave twice received an additional $ 25 gift card along with the two $ 10 cards.
“I have $ 10. Tonight I’m going to come in and have lasagna for dinner,” said Bill Howard after making a donation at Carrabba’s in St. Petersburg.
Gift cards are good, no doubt, he said, but the main reason he gives regularly is because he was stabbed during the Vietnam War and needed a lot of blood to survive. He wants to save others as the blood of a stranger once saved him.
“I would say that most of the time in almost all of our campaigns our intention is to have a donation from a donor,” said Pat Michaels, director of media relations for OneBlood. “It could be Carrabba’s, Publix, Red Lobster. We have built some wonderful partners, ”he said.
OneBlood also delivers donated tickets from the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Daytona 500 and Carowinds amusement park near Charlotte, NC.
Along with gift cards and tickets, many blood collection groups also give away swag like beach towels, fleece blankets, car umbrellas, and insulated water bottles.
Vitalant, which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is the nation’s largest nonprofit blood service provider serving 40 states. It hosts more than 30,000 blood donation drives a year and offers a variety of benefits and incentives for blood donors.
Vitalant is partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks to encourage high school students to organize blood drive at school. The team will host more than 1,000 students from blood donation committees. Organizers from the two schools with the most donations will share a party suite at a Diamondbacks game.
Vitalant is also encouraging women to organize a blood drive with their friends in the same way that they would organize a party at home selling jewelry or clothing. An organizer can invite eight friends to a private party at a fun food collection center where donors receive gift cards and other items.
For givers with a sweet tooth, Vitalant recently promoted a pint-for-pint offering. Donors who gave half a liter of blood received a voucher for a liter of free frozen custard at Culver’s.
The American Red Cross recently offered $ 5 Amazon gift cards to some donors, and their names were entered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Winners will receive pit badges, airfare airfare, hotel accommodations, and a $ 500 gift card. Other Red Cross blood donation drives enter donor names into a drawing for a chance to win a $ 1,000 e-gift card for one of various stores.
More benefits for donating platelets
Platelets are small cells that stop bleeding by forming clots. Donated platelets are used for cancer patients, transplants, burn patients, and traumatic injuries.
When someone donates platelets, a machine removes them from whole blood and then returns the rest of the blood to the donor. The process takes about three hours.
Because it takes longer than donating whole blood, more benefits are offered to people who administer platelets, which can be donated every seven days. OneBlood recently challenged platelet donors to a two-month program that offers gift cards valued at $ 25 for their second donation, $ 50 for their third, and $ 75 for their fourth.
He’s also promoting a three-month challenge, offering gift cards valued at $ 25 for the second donation, $ 50 for the third, $ 75 for the fourth, $ 100 for the fifth, and $ 125 for the sixth. That’s a total of $ 375 in gift cards in three months.
Steady increase in need during pandemic
Even in typical times, blood collection organizations are constantly trying to recruit more donors. Only 37% of the US population is eligible to donate blood, and fewer than 10% of those people do so at least once a year, according to Givingblood.org.
The many impacts of COVID-19 made it even more difficult to reach out and encourage donors, according to Michaels on OneBlood.
“There have been many reasons for there to be a shortage of blood drive drives,” he said. Blood drive drives at universities, high schools, and office buildings were canceled for months because they were closed.
“We had to recover by creating new partnerships,” Michaels said. OneBlood worked with county election offices across the country, as well as hundreds of homeowner’s associations to connect with groups of people who signed up for blood drives, he said.